Cabinet refers maritime policy to CoS

New Delhi, March 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
The Union Cabinet last week referred the National Maritime Policy to the committee of secretaries (CoS) seeking further revisions before clearing it for implementation. This is the first major step towards clearing the policy, which has been lying on the backburner for more than a year.

The policy was framed in August 2004 and was subsequently placed on the website of the shipping ministry enabling stakeholders to give their inputs on it. After incorporating the inputs from stakeholders, a modified draft of the policy was again put up on the m site in February 2005. However during the whole of last year, in fact till January this year, not much headway had been made, and the ministry was still collecting inputs from the stakeholders.

Introduction of the maritime policy would give a major impetus to the maritime sector, as the draft includes a slew of measures to this effect. Some of the significant measures include development of inland water transport (IWT) segment. For this, the policy has envisaged setting up of a IWT development fund with a corpus of Rs 500 crore. A dredging policy for inland water channels has also been suggested in the draft document.

Development of national sea waterways and setting up of directorate general of ports are the two significant steps which the government plans to implement once the policy is cleared. The proposed directorate general of ports would be placed under the supervision of the shipping department, which would supervise the overall development of ports. For all these measures, the ministry would seek budgetary support to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore from the government.

In fact, the draft document also includes a scheme for providing equity assistance of around Rs 100 crore for the development of minor ports. Strengthening of maritime administration and formulation of a shipping developmental fund are also envisaged under the policy.

Sources said had the policy been cleared last year, all these plans would have been part of this years Budget.